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About volcanohunter

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan, former dancer, self-loathing (ex-)New Yorker
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  1. volcanohunter

    Bolshoi La Bayadere in Cinema January 2018

    Daria Khokhlova narrating, unidentified prima ballerina Anastasia Stashkevich dancing. The dancers demonstrating the choreography are not named, sadly. Sometimes they also appear in the trailer as talking heads so viewers can put two and two together, sometimes they don't.
  2. volcanohunter

    Sergei Polunin

    A series of performances which were to have taken place in October at the National Opera of Ukraine were canceled over the summer. And that was before his posts became completely bizarre. More recently I noticed that large numbers of (perhaps most) National Ballet of Ukraine dancers had "unfollowed" his Instagram account. The photoshopped image of Queen Elizabeth on his Instagram also won't help. She really had no choice, given the public outcry, which included public criticism by POB dancers. Where was her due diligence before the invitation was made? It may not be needed for 99% of dancers, but Polunin's bad reputation didn't materialize out of thin air. https://twitter.com/Adriencvz/status/1083341787761205248
  3. volcanohunter

    Nutcracker 2018

    I am puzzled by this comment, because the second doll dance in Wright's version is for a soldier and vivandière. Russian versions often include a "Saracen" dance in blackface (which is how a "Moor" made his way into Baryshnikov's old production for ABT), and battle scenes in some productions worldwide have cultural overtones, with the Nutcracker's toy soldiers doing battle with an army of mice from an enemy ethnic group, but Wright's first act is entirely European.
  4. This has been touched on in a different thread, but in years past we've compiled lists that focused on the best and worst in ballet over the year. I've still got two performances to attend in 2018, but this is my tentative overview. Best Ruslan Skvortsov and Denis Savin (Bolshoi Ballet), paired as Albrecht and Hilarion, Romeo and Tybalt, Don José and the Torero, Pechorin and Grushnitsky. Nostrils flare, the air crackles, sparks fly, neither holds back anything, and it makes for incredibly thrilling viewing. Just as importantly, everything they do is genuinely and unapologetically true. It's a great pity Savin is the wrong "type" for Lensky. Sonia Rodriguez as Romola in Neumeier's Nijinsky (National Ballet of Canada). An original and uncommonly complex portrayal. Not the long-suffering martyr most interpreters portray, but a woman who has had it "up to here," often comes close to walking away, but then persists. Stunning work. This is what comes from 28 years of professional stage experience. François Alu in the grand pas from Paquita with the National Ballet of Ukraine. Normally I have very little use for "boom-boom" dancers. They can do 540s till they're red in the face, and I am more likely to be irritated about ballet being turned into a circus than I am to be impressed. But Alu combines high-octane virtuosity with French schooling, which makes him a completely different animal: jaw-dropping flash and thrills, including total mastery of pirouettes, delivered with beauty and finesse. Worst The sexual misbehavior mess at New York City Ballet, which, thankfully, the company seems to have weathered. Denis Rodkin as Onegin (Bolshoi Ballet). Shallow, supercilious and repellent. When I've met men like that, my reaction was to think "what a jerk," not to write a love letter. Yulia Stepanova in "Diamonds" (Bolshoi Ballet). Inelegant, sometimes even vulgar, sluggish, technically sticky, musically lugubrious and literally unwatchable. A profanation. The nadir of my ballet-going over the past decade. At the Paris Opera Ballet, Hervé Moreau being unable to retire fittingly owing to the injuries that were the bane of his career, and Josua Hoffalt retiring prematurely. Biggest disappointment How ballet marked the Petipa bicentennial. While Alexei Ratmansky staged reconstructions of Harlequinade and La Bayadère (which I did not see), the Royal Ballet presented a new Swan Lake, in which much of Petipa's contribution was re-choreographed, the Bolshoi presented an "anniversary" gala that inexplicably featured works by the likes of Preljocaj, Maliphant, de Bana and Cherkaoui, and most companies, such as the Bavarian State Ballet, which had inherited Ivan Liška's Petipa project, limited themselves to a few "after Petipa" productions and went about their business as usual.
  5. volcanohunter

    Bolshoi La Bayadere in Cinema January 2018

    The Bolshoi's cinema trailers are filmed toward the end of the preceding season, long before casting decisions are made, and don't reflect actual casting more often than not. The trailer for the repeat broadcast of Don Quixote featured Margarita Shrainer, even though the performance starred Ekaterina Krysanova. And the original trailer for the live broadcast featured Maria Alexandrova, not Krysanova. The promotional material for the forthcoming repeat of Sleeping Beauty features Evgenia Obraztsova, despite the fact that Aurora was danced by Olga Smirnova in that broadcast. The trailer for this season's La Sylphide featured Daria Khokhlova and Artemy Belyakov, while the actual performance did not include Belyakov, and Khokhlova danced the first sylph, not the lead. This has been the pattern for years. The trailers are totally unreliable indicators of who will actually dance and probably reflect who was available and/or fit to film them at the time they were shot.
  6. On broadcast night I was watching live from high up in the ROH amphitheatre. A month later I finally saw the performance "close up" at a cinema. The audience there watched largely in silence, as movie audiences generally do. But after Choe's variation a substantial number of people applauded, the only instance of applause that evening.
  7. volcanohunter

    Marius Petipa Documentary

    Thank you, Ashton Fan! Since the link is missing its tail end, I'm reposting it. The film is available in French, French with subtitles, and German. https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/076621-000-A/marius-petipa-le-maitre-francais-du-ballet-russe/ It's fascinating, though I found the film a bit sloppy, probably because of time constraints. Certainly the heavy use of Swan Lake's white acts, though clarified later, is misleading. If a reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty was required, I could have done without Nacho Duato's version. Arte is a Franco-German network, so a component from Berlin may have been deemed necessary. But I was still left wondering whether it was a film about Petipa or Tchaikovsky. (I think Alban Lendorf and Cassandra Trenary would be surprised to learn they are employed by New York City Ballet, as the credits imply.) Oh, but that animated drum dance!
  8. volcanohunter

    Simone Messmer

    From what I can remember, the tone of Kochetkova's comments was not at all personal. It was an observation on the comparative salaries of dancers and stage crews, implying dancers were underpaid. Messmer took exception and defended IATSE rates. It was unusual that new soloist Messmer should have debated the issue with popular principal Kochetkova in public.
  9. volcanohunter

    Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 season

    Perhaps contrary to popularity-contest expectations, Georgy Gusev (class of 2010, initially a dancer at the Stanislavsky) has been promoted to soloist. He is probably most familiar to international audiences for his roles as Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew (whom I found to to be the ballet's sole sympathetic character) and the Blind Boy in A Hero of Our Time in the broadcasts of those works. Gusev's prospects for career advancement are limited because he is very short in stature, but he is an interesting dancer, and this is one of the few promotions of the Vaziev era with which I agree. Congratulations to Gusev.
  10. volcanohunter

    Bolshoi Ballet Summer 2019 ROH London Residency

    Under Vaziev I seem to see the same dancers over and over again. And no, they don't necessarily cover themselves in glory, and I, for one, am sick to death of seeing string-bean demi-soloists wobbling or even falling off pointe. The Lady of the Camellias program is handy in that, unlike programs for Sleeping Beauty or Giselle, it lists every dancer on stage, including the furniture movers at Marguerite's estate sale. The Bolshoi's Lady is also different from Hamburg's in that the Bolshoi uses several ensembles, rather than having a significantly smaller corps doing a large number or roles and a huge number of costume changes. Among those who danced in the ensembles of Artifact Suite or Petrushka, 42% of the women and 62% of the men appeared in Lady the following week. A handful of dancers appeared in all three ballets. So it's not entirely surprising that Lady, coming straight after their day off, looked under-rehearsed. It has to said that this also applies to lead dancers. For example, at the beginning of the "white" duet, when Marguerite and Armand walk to the center with their backs to each other, Zakharova and Denis Rodkin did not touch backs neatly at center stage, but ended a few feet apart, forcing them to shuffle awkwardly into position to begin the duet, and that's the kind of thing I've seen a lot of at the Bolshoi.
  11. volcanohunter

    Bolshoi Ballet Summer 2019 ROH London Residency

    I assumed that Mashinka's criticism was directed at the Royal Ballet's programming, where a ballet can run for a whole month. At the Bolshoi the company typically presents two, sometimes three, programs each week, which isn't quite as daunting as what you'll find at true repertory companies, but having seen 31 Bolshoi Ballet performances in Moscow this year, I can attest that, unfortunately, a lot of them looked far from perfect, and few of them justified the very high ticket prices. (But that also has a lot to do with casting policies, and that's a separate discussion.) The last scene of Lady, that is, Marguerite's final visit to the theater and the subsequent trio in her boudoir, was performed by Svetlana Zakharova as Marguerite, Ekaterina Shipulina as Manon Lescaut and Ruslan Skvortsov as Des Grieux, and they delivered unequivocally. People seated around me were weeping audibly. But up to that point I had been bored to death (and no, I don't dislike the work), and the ballet looked decidedly under-rehearsed and much of the dancing awkward, although I have to say that Vitaly Biktimirov as M. Duval was extremely compelling.
  12. volcanohunter

    Bolshoi Ballet Summer 2019 ROH London Residency

    The really big downside is that with the frequent changes in repertoire, the Bolshoi often looks underrehearsed and rough around the edges. That was certainly the case with the performance I saw during the past week. Perhaps because the bulk of recent rehearsal time had been dedicated to the premiere of Artifact Suite, Lady of the Camellias looked ragged and, frankly, not worth the astronomical admission price, for the most part. Though it has to be said that the principals knocked the ball out of the park in the final scene and salvaged the evening brilliantly.
  13. volcanohunter

    Royal Ballet 2018-19 season

    In fairness, lots of people objected to Callas' voice. John Martin's opinion of Symphony in C turned out to be more of an outlier.
  14. volcanohunter

    Thoughts on Iolanta/The Nutcracker

    This is Tcherniakov's standard trope. There was his notorious Evgeny Onegin at the Bolshoi which took place entirely in dining rooms, one for Acts 1 and 2, another for Act 3. Don Giovanni in Aix took place within a single wood-paneled room. Il trovatore in Brussels took place in the lobby of a seedy hotel. There was a production of Verdi's Macbeth which was unusual in that some of the scenes seemed to take place outdoors, albeit in a suburban housing development.
  15. volcanohunter

    Bolshoi Ballet Summer 2019 ROH London Residency

    I'm sure Drew is correct. In the "making of" documentary about Ratmansky's R&J, Karen Kain stated quite plainly that she was hoping the production would become a touring vehicle for the National Ballet of Canada. There was really no other reason to replace the Cranko production, which had served the company very well for nearly 50 years. So the company isn't going to give touring rights to anyone else. The Winter's Tale, as performed by the NBoC, has already played at the Kennedy Center as part of the Shakespeare anniversary year, although most of the performances had to be canceled owing to huge snowfalls. And I'm sure the three-way production of Anna Karenina has geographical touring restrictions, although I don't think the companies actually share the physical production. Earlier this autumn the Hamburg Ballet and the Bolshoi were performing the piece almost simultaneously. The Bolshoi last visited Washington with Giselle in 2014. In 2012 it brought Coppélia. I can't recall whether it was the tour before that which brought Le Corsaire in 2009. In any event, it's been a while, so nothing would be overly familiar, but it's also been a long time since the Bolshoi brought more than one production to Washington. I've seen Hero of Our Time six times, and I've seen nearly everyone who's performed the principal roles. (Not everyone listed on the Bolshoi master list has actually done the piece. With one exception, the original "third cast" of Princess Mary never performed the ballet for an audience.) I find "Bela" weak choreographically and unbalanced dramatically. The piece is only 30 minutes long, and about half of it is devoted to exposition, so there's almost no time left over for the relationship of Bela and Pechorin. "Taman" has more interesting choreography, but is very thin dramatically. But "Princess Mary" in the hands of the right dancers (i.e., NOT Svetlana Zakharova) can be thrilling, and the music, to the extent that it imitates Mahler, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky, is quite attractive. What also seems pretty clear to the modern dancer in me, but not to the people casting new dancers in Hero, is that the three Pechorins were designed specifically for dancers with low, high and medium centers of gravity respectively. It's hardwired into the choreography. Unfortunately, some more recent interpreters have been assigned choreography that they can't really make work on their bodies.